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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at 12:00 PM

I hope all of you had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, and are ready to get back to the grindstone handicapping the busy sports schedule. There’s not much compelling right now from a sports betting perspective going on in the NBA Playoffs. So, I’m going to spend some more time today in the bases. I’ll definitely have a “How to Handicap the NBA Finals” class discussion for you next week before the championship series begins on June 4.

It struck me as very interesting that the Washington Nationals have surged back to the top of the NL East in recent days despite that fact that long-projected phenom Steven Strasburg is having a disastrous season. All the coddling and patience the franchise showed with that lethal arm…and what did it get them? No trips to the World Series…and now Strasburg keeps getting lit up when he should be entering his prime!

Here are the key stats for Washington’s rotation starters this season:

Max Scherzer: 1.67 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 7.2 innings per start

Jordan Zimmerman: 3.52 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 6.0 innings per start

Doug Fister: 4.31 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 5.7 innings per start

Gio Gonzalez: 4.53 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 6.0 innings per start

Steven Strasburg: 6.50 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 4.9 innings per start

Strasburg is throwing like a minor-league call-up rather than one of the priciest pitchers in the game. Production like that wouldn’t be tolerated with most starters. But, there’s always hope he will return to his best form of the past. And, you’d have to expect he’d at least improve enough to be a legitimate #4 or #5 starter as the team bides its time until the postseason.

Plus, frankly, it would take a miracle for this team not to reach the postseason.

*Washington is in a horrible division, which should be easy to win

*Washington is one of only four teams with decent park-adjusted hitting stats in the NL

*Max Scherzer is a legitimate ace who just moved over to the easier league

If Washington was hitting on all cylinders, they might be 35-10 right now instead of 27-18. They were shorthanded offensively to start the season, and have seen big statistical disappointments with three-fifths of the starting rotation. Yet, there they are comfortably in the playoff picture.

In fact, the betting markets consider them the favorite to win the National League!



Washington +235

Los Angeles Dodgers +275

St. Louis +410

Chicago Cubs +900

San Francisco +950

You should know that insiders mostly see the Dodgers as the slightly superior team…but Washington’s easy division makes it very unlikely the Nats would have to enter as a Wildcard. It’s that mathematical wrinkle that’s separating the Nats and the Dodgers at the moment.

All of this is a springboard to several general topics I want you to keep in mind as you handicap baseball in the coming weeks.

*There’s so much parity in the sport right now (once you get beneath the handful of market favorites)…that getting a little bit better will help you leapfrog many teams. Once Washington got healthy, they became a juggernaut despite disappointing pitching. On the other end of the spectrum, we have a few teams that are going through some turmoil. They sank to the bottom of the majors very quickly in recent days. Whether it’s two steps forward or two steps back…it’s a BIG deal in the big picture because so many teams are standing still. Do what you can to spot teams who are either ready to catch fire and start winning, or set their clubhouses on fire and start losing.

*On that same pathway, any pitcher struggling with a minor injury or mechanical issues can be in big trouble because he’s better than NOBODY! When you have a lot of pitching parity (a lot of innings munchers out there), those backward steps put you at the bottom of the ledger. Don’t you dare bet money on a struggling pitcher hoping that he’s going to turn it around. Wait until you see evidence that he’s turning it around, THEN try to catch oddsmakers napping.

*Speaking of oddsmakers…they still tend to price on reputation rather than what’s happening lately. It took them awhile to adjust to Strasburg’s issues this season…and they’re still arguably trailing reality. Students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping should always remember that winning money is about attacking weaknesses in the market. You need to learn how to spot what the market is missing!

If you’d like some help finding the best baseball bets on the board each day, you can purchase those right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. Call during normal business hours any weekday.

Our next class get-together will be later this week. That will probably be another baseball themed report. Maybe we’ll have some surprises in the NBA Playoffs that need to be discussed. And, I’ll probably start sprinkling in some general NFL topics through the summer too. The best professors always keep their students guessing! I greatly appreciate your attendance and hard work. The Dean of Sports Handicapping will see you again next time.


Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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